I think there is a better verse than John 3:16 to use in our current culture to show the lost person their need for salvation in Christ. In fact, I think we should quit using John 3:16 all together. Far too many take it to mean, “of course God loves me, I’m just so darn special, how could He not love me?”
In fact, we probably need to quit using the entire topic of God’s love all together to reach the loss. Far too many have done so and turned the God who is, into a god of their own imaginations. By doing so, we short change the gospel completely. The church is trying to tell an egocentric, self-centered generation about their need for a Savior and talking about God’s love is not the answer.
I think we need to make it clear that God’s condemnation rests upon them and they are justly deserving of hell. So our stepping off point should be Matthew 7:21-22.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This cuts to the chase showing that even those who think they are doing things for God, which many in our culture believe they are (think the pro-gay lobby and liberals in general), unless they know Christ and are known by Him, they have no place in heaven with them. Which reminds me of an astute pastor I know who was always pointing out that those not in Christ will not want to be in heaven to begin with since it will be full of nothing but… Christians.
But the point is that we have so candy-coated the gospel with God’s love, we have excluded His holiness, wrath and demands for obedience from His creation. We are no longer preaching the gospel, but merely preaching one attribute of God, His love. We are not longer showing the unbeliever their need, but giving them a God that demands nothing. We are failing in preaching the truth of God’s word.
So maybe we need to read Matthew 7:21-23 for ourselves, in order to make sure it’s not going to be true for us as well.